“I can’t wait for this year to be over, can you? Crazy!” exclaimed Parton.
The two had a lovely rapport, with Colbert appearing genuinely (and quite understandably) in awe of his guest—so much so that the conversation never even came close to touching politics.
During one exchange, the late-night host was even moved to tears. The tender moment came while Parton was describing songs her late mother, Avie Lee Owens Parton, passed down to her.
“Mama used to sing all those songs brought over from the old world. Mama was a good singer too, and she would just sing a capella all the time,” Parton explained. “So many of those songs were sad, and as I say, some of them just ‘plum pitiful.’ But there was a song she used to sing called ‘Bury Me Beneath the Willow.’ It was about a girl that was going to get married, and her boyfriend left her at the altar or whatever, so she died, of course—she killed herself, I suppose.”
Then, Parton broke into song. “Bury me beneath the willow, under the weeping willow tree, where he may know where I am sleeping and perhaps he’ll weep for me,” she sang, adding, “But where oh where can he be? He’s gone to seek him another bride, he cares no more for me.”
Colbert first registered goosebumps, then began tearing up—and was forced to remove his glasses and wipe his eyes.
“Are you cryin’?” asked Parton.
“I have to say… like a lot of Americans, I’m under a lot of stress now, Dolly!” said Colbert. “You got under my tripwire right there, I’ll tell you… that was pretty beautiful.”
“Mom would cry, we’d cry, those old songs were just amazing,” Parton replied.
It was a nice respite from the usual Trump-mocking sturm und drang.